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Be Wonder Woman

No, I’m not talking about the woman most Christian ladies are thinking of. The Proverbs 31 woman (though that’s not a bad idea ;)). But before we talk about Wonder Woman…Happy Thanksgiving, y’all! Whether you’re surrounded by family and friends or alone–God always deserves our thanks. My daughter will home for a long weekend and that makes me happy. So I won’t be doing a Forward Friday post, however, yesterday we went to see Justice League. Yeah, Superman’s lip was weird thanks to a little CGI removing a mustache he couldn’t shave b/c he has a contract with Paramount for Mission Impossible. Yeah, there might have been some editing issues (I didn’t really notice them but I did read about them).

What stood out to me, with no spoilers here, is Wonder Woman. Once again. I loved her movie. But in the beginning of Justice League, of course she is saving people. Seriously, that’s not spoiler alert. It’s what they do!

The bad guy is firing bullets, about to take down a whole row of hostages and she sprints through, with her forearm cuffs (what are those called?) and she bats away each and every bullet. It’s all slow-mo and fun.

The bad guy runs out of bullets and asks, “Who are you?”

And she says, “I’m a believer.”

It struck me so hard, I teared up.

Because isn’t that what believers should be doing? Quenching all the fiery darts of the enemy. 

“Be prepared. You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it’s all over but the shouting you’ll still be on your feet. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You’ll need them throughout your life. God’s Word is an indispensable weapon. In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other’s spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out.” Ephesians 6:16-18 MSG

Those forearms thingys she wears are like shields (she also carries a shield). She used them expertly, knocking away every bullet (fiery dart). She stunned the enemy.

Who are you?

A believer.

Not only do we use our shield of faith for ourselves, but she was protecting others! As a believer, we should be too. Through intercession. “Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters.” 

Some people say the outfit makes Wonder Woman who she is. I partly agree. Our outfit makes us too. We wear the armor of God. She wears a crown (again we have crown awaiting us). We wear the helmet of salvation. She has a lasso that makes people tell the truth. We wear the belt of truth. She has a shield. We have a shield of faith. She wears shoes that get her to places to bring peace. We also wear shoes of the gospel of peace.  We too wear a breastplate– of righteousness. And like Diana, we have a sword that is mighty in battle. The sword of the Spirit–the Word of God.

We fight with it all. We intercede for those who may be weary, unsaved, broken, afraid, unsure, fill in the blank. And when the enemy has exhausted all his bullets, we stand firm in our faith.

Who are you?

I am a believer.

That’s a Wonder Woman.

Ladies, BE WONDER WOMAN!

“And that about wraps it up. God is strong, and he wants you strong. So take everything the Master has set out for you, well-made weapons of the best materials. And put them to use so you will be able to stand up to everything the Devil throws your way. This is no afternoon athletic contest that we’ll walk away from and forget about in a couple of hours. This is for keeps, a life-or-death fight to the finish against the Devil and all his angels.” Ephesians 6:10-12 MSG

Have you seen Wonder Woman or Justice League yet? Do you ever consider yourself to be Wonder Woman?

 

Forward Friday: Sheltered From Fear

The morning was overcast, but beautiful. The leaves were golden, crimson, burnt orange. Glorious. The weather was crisp but not cold and I spent the better part of it outside with my earbud in and worship music playing. Intimate worship–my favorite. Just me, the Creator of heaven and earth and ground to eat up as I walked and prayed and praised.

It started to rain (just a sprinkle but it was cold!) and I came inside and opened the curtains to our glass doors so I could view the pond and woods. One of the random cats in our neighborhood likes to roam around that pond, fishing I guess. Who knows! As long as he eats things I don’t want in my house, I’m happy and he can hang out as long as he’d like.

I was listening to Dara McLean’s song:  Find Rest  (so powerful, give it a listen!)  

The cat was strolling the bank, pausing, dipping his paw into the water then moseying on. I was worshiping inside. 

And all of a sudden, out of nowhere, the cat spring into action and high-tailed it across the property. So. Fast. 

Something had startled him, frightened him. Threatened him–could have been a snake! He bolted.

That blur of white beelined it straight into our barn. At first, I thought maybe he was sick of getting wet. But the way he ran–the way it hit him out of nowhere…couldn’t be. It was barely sprinkling at this point.

He was afraid of something.

Ugly Cat (mean name but I can’t help it. He’s not an attractive cat!) raced right into the barn. But he never would have found shelter from his fears if the doors hadn’t been open. But they were.  

He found safety inside.

You and I have fears. Sometimes they hit us out of nowhere. Sometimes we see them creeping up on us day by day. Minute by minute.

It’s a loved one making choices that are going to affect them in horrific ways.

It’s the disturbing news.

The bad report from the doctor.

It’s a threat.

Circumstances.

Finances.

Loss of insurance.

Loneliness.

You fill in the blank.

But like that cat, we can run to safety. We can find shelter in the arms of our God. They are always open to us. Always a safe place to run. Always trustworthy.

Oh, but we run in so many other directions, don’t we? We run aimlessly which is exhausting, especially if we sprint. We run to things we call “guilty pleasures” and to comforts like food, shopping, entertainment etc…good things. Bad things. Doesn’t matter. We will not find rest. We will not find peace. We will not find joy unless we’re running to the LORD. Into His arms. Into His grace. Into His unfailing love. 

So many things ruin us. Let us be ruined for better, not worse. Let us be ruined for any useless thing because it’s in HIs shelter where we’re blessed, changed, made new. It’s in His shelter we find our identity. Our passion. Our purpose. You’ll find it nowhere else, friend. 

Let’s run to Him today, and not go back. 

Where do you run when you feel afraid? 

Forward Challenge: Whatever has you anxious, afraid, nervous–take it to the powerful arms of God today. Lay them at His feet. Let Him crush them for you today. There is nowhere safer to run than to His shelter.

Forward Prayer: Lord, thank you that we can run to Your loving arms when we’re afraid, nervous, insecure, concerned or even when everything is okay. They are always open under any circumstance. Today, Lord, show us somehow, some way how much You love us and want to secure us in Your arms. In Jesus’s name. Amen.

Forward Scripture:  

 

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Forward Friday: Flushing Fear

 

Fear and anxiety go hand in hand. We all have them. 

My son has a few “phobias.” He’s looked them up on the phobia website, so this past Sunday when our pastor preached on fear and brought up this website, he looked at me with a grin. But then he went on to talk about fear not being from God. My son grew quiet. We’ve talked about his fears and anxiety often. I’ve encouraged him to pray about them, through them.

God doesn’t give us a spirit of fear. Fear is paralyzing. Fear keeps us from moving forward. 

I had quite a bit of fear when I began writing. What if this doesn’t get published? What if I fail? What if I get laughed out of a room, a conference, a pitch session? Every “what if” was one of failure. God had to remind me: What if I succeed? What if I’m greeted into the industry with a smile and handshake or hug? What if these stories are published? What ifs don’t have to be scary. They just typically are. Because fear tends to dominate.

David told Solomon in 1 Chronicles 28:20-21(MSG)“Take charge! Take heart! Don’t be anxious or get discouraged. God, my God, is with you in this; he won’t walk off and leave you in the lurch. He’s at your side until every last detail is completed for conducting the worship of God.”

Whatever you face today, whatever fear is staring you down, paralyzing you, pushing you back from being obedient to God in whatever He’s asked you to do, know that he won’t walk off and leave you alone. He will finish what He started in you and bring it to completion.

“Jesus said, “It’s done . . . complete.” Bowing his head, he offered up his spirit.” John 19:30 MSG. You may know the verse said like this: It is finished. Jesus hung there and stuck it all out for you and for me. 

Until it was finished.

Not a second sooner.

If He would go to those lengths to nail your fears and anxiety to the cross, why would He leave you now?

Too many people walk out on us, leaving us ripped up and scarred.

Jesus was scarred just to stay with us. To the very end.

I know my son was listening intently to that sermon on fear. He heard how God wants us to be like Gideon . To believe God sees us differently. He called Gideon a mighty warrior. My son’s first and middle name together mean: warrior/arrows. In God’s eyes he’s not a boy riddled with anxiety and fears. He’s fierce. A warrior. 

But my little warrior carries a fidget cube with him. It’s not because he’s antsy. It soothes his anxiety. He keeps it in his pocket and rolls the buttons around. His sister gave it to him to have at school. At the end of service, he asked me if he could go to the bathroom and I could tell he legit had to go, so I told him to go on.

When he came back he had this grin on his face. 

“What’s going on?” I asked.

“Well…I dropped my fidget cube in the toilet.”

I snickered of course. “Did you flush it?”

“No, I used a little piece of toilet paper and got it out, then washed it really good.”

Gross. Gross. Gross.

But the thought hit me Monday morning while talking with a friend on Voxer.  That fidget cube represents his fears and anxieties. Oh that he would flush the fear and not try to fish it out of the toilet.

Oh that I would flush my fears down the toilet and walk out of the bathroom trusting more in God and how He sees me. Instead, I’ve picked those fears out of the toilet when God was nudging me to flush the away. l’ve picked back old anxieties instead of letting them go down the drain.

My prayer is that my son will be able to dump the fidget cube. My prayer is that you and I will be able to dump our “fidget cubes” too.

Forward Challenge: Put God’s Word to your fear today. Out loud. You are an overcome. A warrior. A child of God. Whatever He’s called you to do, or to not do, you can. Don’t let fear hold you back!

Forward Prayer: Lord, you have not given us a spirit of fear. We know that tucked safely in Your arms we are sheltered. We can do all that You have asked us to do. We can give up all that you have asked us to give up from unhealthy habits to unhealthy relationships. Every weight and sin that hold us back and down, we can toss aside and lay at Your scarred feet. Give us the faith to believe. The strength to act. And the courage to boldly face those things we have feared. No longer in bondage to fear, we are free in Christ Jesus. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Forward Scripture: 

*I am not talking about clinical anxiety that requires medication. Some fear and anxiety (PTSD) need to be dealt with through professional help (and of course prayer). 

What about you? Do you have some fears you know you need to flush down the toilet instead of fishing them out, “cleaning them off” and pocketing them again?

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Forward Friday: Serving Family

A couple of Sundays ago, one of our pastors, Kevin Hauman, made a statement when talking about families that struck a chord in me. He said, “We have to serve our families.” Sounds simple and common sense, but I have to admit, I never really equated what I do at home as serving. Not really. I cook, clean, keep laundry (except my man’s because he likes to do his own and I don’t argue ;)) up and groceries bought etc…It’s just, you know, what I do as mom. Not that my husband doesn’t do any of these things, he does them often and my kids help out. But for the most part, I do these things. I do them without much thought. It is a labor of love but I haven’t thought of it as that.

Late that Sunday night after the sermon, my husband had a terrible toothache and his stirring with pain woke me. A quiet whisper entered my mind, “He needs an ice pack.” So I thought, “Great! I’ll tell him to go get one!” And Kevin’s words came back to me. “Serve your family.” The Lord spoke to my heart. “You go get him one.”

Was I tired? Yes. Would I have to go all the way downstairs? Yes. Would I probably be wide awake the rest of the night? Probably. But He was right. And so I did. I went downstairs and came back up and brought him an ice pack which helped! Did I lay awake awhile? Yes. But it felt good to serve him out of love. To do that simple task.

Like Mother Teresa said. It’s not how much we do, but how much love is behind it.

What are some simple things you do for your family that you don’t have to, but want to in order to show them how much you love them and want to serve them?

Forward Challenge: Do one thing for each of your immediate family members today that is small, but served with a lot of love. Note how it makes them feel and how it made you feel!

Forward Prayer: Lord, it’s easy to serve our family when it’s things we enjoy doing, but sometimes cooking one more meal, dropping off forgotten books when we are already running late for meetings, or cleaning gooey gum off shoes doesn’t feel loving. Help us to do it anyway and to love like You would. Fill us with overwhelming love and let it shine through our actions.

Forward Scripture: 

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Forward Friday: How to Overcome Obstacles

“How are we going to get in now? I told you we should have left sooner,” friend #1 said.

“You can’t leave sooner if you don’t know any sooner that he’s here.” Friend #2 huffed, frustrated and pushed in by the crowd.

“Well, I didn’t come all this way for nothing! We’ll mow every single man down. Women and children too; I don’t care!” Friend #3 wasn’t leaving either. They had a mission to accomplish. 

The heat licked at them and their pal only stayed quiet, but hope filled his eyes and that was enough for all of them to figure out a way, but their bickering continued.

Finally, Friend #4 interrupted. “Guys…guys…guys!”

They paused and looked at him. He pointed up.

They all followed his finger. “If we can’t go through. I say we go up and in.”

“Well…” said the pal on the mat. “At least if I fall, I won’t feel it”

The friends chuckled at their pal’s humor, though dark. If–no, when–they got him inside, he’d be doing more than feeling. He’d be walking.

“And when they could not come near Him because of the crowd, they uncovered the roof where He was. So when they had broken through, they let down the bed on which the paralytic was lying.” Mark 2:4 NKJV

That day Jesus went to Capernaum and people found out he was there in a house, so immediately they came bringing those who needed healing. So many people packed in, they nearly closed in on Jesus! Have you ever been in a place like that? A concert? Black Friday? It’s claustrophobic for sure.

These four friends brought their paralytic friend who was lying on a  mat/stretcher. They had no plans to walk away without seeing him healed. But they were boxed in.

In this passage, four things stand out to me.

The paralytic man had a desperate need and he couldn’t fix the problem alone.

Ever been there? Sometime we battle things, we struggle alone and we never ask our brothers and sisters in Christ for help. Maybe because we feel ashamed. Could be that we don’t think we should be having these struggles or problems and can’t admit we are (that’s pride by the way). We might even fear they’ll turn their backs on us, judge us critically, or gossip (those aren’t real friends). Whatever the reason, the first thing we must come to terms with is we need godly friends who have our backs. Who have our whole selves. Sometimes when we can’t do for ourselves, when we feel paralyzed, we need good and godly friends to carry us in prayer…or even physically like this account. 

Obstacles stood in their way

In this case it was a throng of people packed in like sardines and getting to Jesus appeared bleak. Impossible. I know, and you may know, that Jesus is always here. But sometimes it feels like he’s far away. Our feelings don’t change the fact that he is indeed near. What this man needed was far away. Obstacles were keeping him at bay from his miracle. Sometimes, obstacles are so great that it feels easier to give up and walk away. To go back to the way it was before. Like the Israelites on their way to the Promised Land. It was hard. There were obstacles. And they began to romanticize slavery…hey we ate good. It wasn’t that bad. Yes it was! You cried out to God to be delivered it was so bad. But living in the familiar seems easier than forging ahead through obstacles and trouble to get free! These guys weren’t going to let the obstacles stand in their way. 

They thought outside the box.

That little dialogue, of course, was fiction but I imagine they saw the crowds and human nature took over for at least a second. How are we going to get him to Jesus? It looks hopeless. I don’t see a way. And then a way was made! It wasn’t through the front door. Not even the back door. Many times we expect to get somewhere a certain way. When that way is blocked, we get discouraged. Think outside the box. Faith is believing in the unseen. What aren’t you seeing? You may need godly counsel/friends to help you see! Instead of going through, you may have to climb up. You may have to rip the tiles off the roof one at time and chip away until you can see the light! Freedom doesn’t always come freely. Overcoming sin and struggles won’t always come easily. It takes time. Perseverance. Endurance. Sweat. Blood. Tears. And having good friends to help rally around and fight with you is important! 

They broke through.

I imagine it took some time. I imagine it wasn’t easy hauling a grown man on a stretcher onto a roof. I doubt they expected this and brought tools. They ripped those layered tiles (probably what the roof was made of) one by one. They may have ended up with bloody fingers. I know they had sore muscles. But when they broke through…they saw Jesus. The light. Their miracle happened. They found freedom. Joy. They lowered him down and Jesus marveled at their faith and he healed the man. He walked out of that house. I’m not sure if the owner sought payment for the hole in the roof or not. 🙂

Break through is possible. All things are possible with God. But it takes faith. Keep going. Keep believing. Keep pressing in. Don’t let pride, fear, or shame hold you back from rallying good friends to go into battle with you and to carry you through prayer.

Get up and walk, friend! 

Forward Challenge: Commit today to asking one friend to pray for you. Whether you need healing, you need to overcome a weight or hindrance that’s keeping you from running the race, or you need to battle through a sin for freedom. Swallow pride. Don’t cower in fear. Have courage. 

Forward Prayer: Lord, we trust You. We draw near to you today and confess we need healed, changed, transformed. Help us overcome fear and trust godly friends to pray for us. Meet us where we are. Give us strength to persevere and not give up when obstacles seem to keep us from where we need to be. At Your feet. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Forward Scripture: “But it is good for me to draw near to God; I have put my trust in the Lord GOD, that I may declare all Your works.” Psalm 73:28 NKJV

 

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Forward Friday: The Hard Truths

I enjoy spending my time asking friends to tell me all the bad things about myself. I thrive on it really.

Said no one ever. 

Someone I love once a hundred times told me, “You don’t listen. You’re the most hardheaded person I’ve ever met.”

Ask me how that went over. 

Not.  Well.

Pretty sure my insides heated to 950 billion degrees and my reaction came in fiery breaths and words. Because when you’ve been struck with the arrow of a hard truth, the initial response is to fire back with whatever the enemy has poisoned and placed in your quiver.

Hearing hard truths from loved ones…hurts. It raises our defenses. It can get nasty. 

This is one of my husband’s favorite verses (ESV). Maybe because it gives license to call someone stupid (just kidding). 

Correction, discipline is necessary to grow as a human being. To grow spiritually. But it’s hard to hear. Hard to take. “For the LORD corrects those he loves, just as a father corrects a child in whom he delights.” Proverbs 3:12 NLT

If we don’t listen and examine ourselves–if we don’t let God examine our hearts and reveal to us the hard truths, we’ll continue to repeat the same mistakes. And repeating the same thing hoping for new endings is the definition of insanity. Let’s not be stupid and insane. 🙂 

Lately, I’ve been advising a loved one about relationships. But this person doesn’t want to hear the hard truths, and it’s going to cause yet another downfall. It’s frustrating to watch. It’s painful to endure. This person will not see they might have some behaviors they need to change. Some issues in their heart that needs refining and softened. And this person refuses to step back and let words of wisdom reign.

And while ranting to the Lord about this, He reminded me that I haven’t dealt with all of the hard truths I’ve been given. I don’t want to see I might have some behaviors I need to change. Some issues in my heart that needs refining and softened. And I’ve refused to step back and let the words of wisdom reign.

I handle the hard stuff much better when it comes from God–straight to my spirit. I guess I don’t like flawed people pointing out my own. Maybe it’s the plank and speck scenario. Maybe I’m just prideful. Probably a bit of both. Maybe you are too? And sometimes, even when I do listen to God’s conviction upon my heart, I don’t always follow through. But I want to. How about you?

 

Forward Challenge: If you know you’ve been given a hard truth and you handled it badly, ask God and the person who delivered it in love for forgiveness, then commit to working on that truth. God is gracious and merciful and He’s the Potter! He can transform us inside out. If you have to deliver a hard truth, pray thoroughly, then make sure you’re going in love. Season your words with grace. And trust God to handle the rest.

Forward Scripture and Prayer: 

 

How are you at handling hard truths? 

 

 

 

 

 

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Forward Friday: The Thrill of Fear

It’s October. Profound observation, I know. It’s that month the box office rakes in money hand over fist thanks to scary movies. Haunted houses. Even today it’s Friday the 13th (the “scariest” day ever–I just call it my birthday ha!). Fright Nights. Fill in the blank. But even if it’s not the “Month of Fright” there’s still roller coasters, skydiving, cliff jumping, drag racing…fill in the blank. 

A few weeks ago, my friend Emily Shuff gave an encouraging devotion to us ladies about fear. She said, “Fear makes us afraid.” We all laughed and she did too because it sounds silly and obvious but I haven’t been able to stop thinking about that phrase or about the things I am afraid of. We all have something or many somethings. Some are rational and some are not. Because fear isn’t always rational. I think it’s silly for my son to freak out over a picnic ant. “Just step on it! It’s not even as big as your pinky toe nail!” But I am not afraid of ants. Fire ants, maybe. 🙂 

We fear the future. We fear uncertainty. War. Mass shootings. Our loved ones dying. Us dying. People we care about being hurt, sick or leaving us. Again, fill in the blank. These fears are not thrills at all are they? And yet, many people love to be afraid. From scary rides to reading scary books or attempting scary feats. Hello, walking across the Grand Canyon on a tight rope? Just why? Why do people enjoy being afraid? 

In reading up on it, I found something a professor of communication at Purdue said. In a nutshell, he says that it’s not about truly loving to be afraid as much as it is having that sense of satisfaction that they’ve conquered something terrifying. Or even a “profound sense of relief” that it’s over. 

Thrill seekers say jumping out of planes or whatever the thrill is, is a rush. I’ve felt that before on a roller coaster. Or toilet papering someone’s house and running away without being caught by the parents! A rush. We did it! We made it!

The other day after raking out flower beds, I found a tiny salamander thingy in my bathroom. I screamed. I grabbed the Clorox wipes tub I was cleaning with and pounded that joker to nothing. Later that day there was another one on my hearth! I screamed. Raced for something stronger than a fly swatter and nailed it. Then we went to the zoo and looked at those crazy dragons my son loves. I took a picture and sent it to Emily with the caption: This is what it felt like when I was smashing that little lizard the other day!

 

It reminded me of something else she said, “When we focus on fear it magnifies.” So true! That little salamander might as well have been this big honking reptile right here. But what happened when I had overcome the fear, conquered it…I felt a rush. I had braved the lizard and came out the victor! And I won’t lie there was a lot of hollering prayer; it sounds like this:  Oh, Jesus, help me! Jesus!

Because we need His help to overcome, push through, come out on the other side of fear victorious. That rush we experience is called victory in Jesus and a testimony! How many times have you listened to youth coming back from a theme park. They’re all talking up how they rode the biggest, scariest ride. They’re testifying, ya’ll! “I even raised my hands the whole time.” Well, yeah, because an iron bar was holding you in! Jesus is our iron bar! He’s holding us in.

Don’t let fear keep you from raising your hands in praise as you go through whatever scary situation you’re in. God never lets you go.  “Be good to me, God—and now! I’ve run to you for dear life. I’m hiding out under your wings until the hurricane blows over. I call out to High God, the God who holds me together.” Psalm 57:1 MSG

He holds you together. You may feel afraid. But you, dear one, are never out from under his wings or slipping through his powerful arms.

Forward Challenge: Take whatever makes you afraid to God right now. Even if it seems silly or irrational. Remember, He says to cast all your cares on Him for He cares for you. Ask Him to help you overcome them, and trust Him to help you do it.

Forward Scripture: “I cling to you; your strong right hand holds me securely.” Psalm 63:8 NLT

Forward Prayer: Lord, your word tells us we do not have to be afraid. We don’t have to be paralyzed by fear. Give us your strength today to move forward. To be victorious. We are more than overcomers because you have overcome the world. You hold us securely and today we cling to you. We praise you because we know that there is no one like you. None besides you. You love us. You’re for us. And if you are for us, who can be against us? No weapon formed against us shall prosper. Whether we are battling insects or cancer…you are with us. No fear is too silly or small. You care about them all. Let us rest in that today. Let us breathe in your goodness and exhale joy and triumph in Jesus’ name.

***Name one fear that you have in the comments. I would like to pray for you and if you see other comments, please pray for each one! Let’s get through them together!

*Note* I am not in any way against theme parks, thrill-seeking activities, or suspenseful movies or books (I write them and I love showing how people can come through with hope and a testimony of God’s faithfulness after being put through the ringer…a scary ringer!) 

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Forward Friday: A Little Dab’ll Do Ya…In

Hunting season is almost upon us, whether you agree with hunting or not. Men and women everywhere will camouflage themselves, creep into the woods and wait patiently for that deer. The key to hunting, besides being a good shot, is to be slow about your movements–tiptoeing…in the words of Elmer Fudd, “qwietly” as not to scare the animal away. They have to blend into the atmosphere so they aren’t spotted.

If you’ve ever hunted, watched a show about hunting, or just walked in the woods, deer can detect you. They suddenly stop, raise their heads and freeze. They sense danger.

Paul says in Galatians 5:9 (MSG), “…a little yeast…spreads through the whole batch of dough!” He’s talking about false teachings slipping in and jacking with what he taught–the true gospel. I think it’s important to keep yourself in the word and under godly teaching so this doesn’t happen, but that’s not what I want to focus on today. I think a lot of yeast (leaven in many translations) can slip into our lives in many ways.

Sin can be subtle. Just a little dab. It’s quiet. It’s camouflaged. And it ruins us. 

Song of Solomon (Song of Songs–same book) says (2:15), “Catch us the foxes, the little foxes that spoil the vines…” If we were a vineyard, being tended to and bearing fruit…foxes would sneak in and ruin that tender, budding fruit.

Little foxes can make big messes! 

Think about the big messes in your life? Did they all start out at tidal wave level? Maybe some. But more often than not, it was small. A little dab. A dash of this and a sprinkle of that until it infiltrated the whole life. It’s impossible for us to try and sift out the yeast once it’s been mixed into the dough. But what is impossible to us is possible with God! He can turn it around. He’s a potter. He can remake us. 

Maybe today, you feel overwhelmed by the mess in your life. It exploded! Or maybe you’re like that deer. You’ve been warned. You’re in a frozen position–run! Don’t drop your head and go back to mindless grazing. The hunter is coming for you. Wherever you are today, you can change. Don’t let the little things become big. God has a great plan for you! 

Forward Challenge: Make time to let God run the little foxes from your life and to remove any leaven that might be spoiling all He has for you.

Forward Scripture & Prayer: 

 

What are some ways we can prevent little foxes from getting inside the vineyard? How can we guard against subtle things seeping into our daily lives? 

Forward Friday: Full Steam Ahead

“They are going to throw you to the wolves and kill you, everyone hating you because you carry my name. And then, going from bad to worse, it will be dog-eat-dog, everyone at each other’s throat, everyone hating each other.  In the confusion, lying preachers will come forward and deceive a lot of people. For many others, the overwhelming spread of evil will do them in—nothing left of their love but a mound of ashes. Staying with it—that’s what God requires. Stay with it to the end. You won’t be sorry, and you’ll be saved. All during this time, the good news—the Message of the kingdom—will be preached all over the world, a witness staked out in every country. And then the end will come.” Matthew 24:10-15 MSG

I think it’s safe to say these verses describe our present times. We can’t control the vicious gnashing of teeth, especially on social media sites. In fact, there isn’t much we can control. We gape in horror and mutter, “Lord Jesus, come.”

It’s frightening. Shocking.  But what grips me most isn’t what the world will be like (is like) it’s what happens to Christians in these times. That’s the horror show. 

The KJV version says, “…the love of many shall wax cold.”

The phrase ” shall wax cold” in the Greek is psychō. Now, I know it seems fitting. Yes, people are going psycho! It’s true. But that word doesn’t mean what we think it does. Kinda like in The Princess Bride. “I do not think that words means what you think it does.”

It actually means, “to breathe, blow, cool by blowing, to breathe–voluntarily but gently, reduction in temperature by evaporation to chill.” Wax. Cold.

Psychō differs from the word Pneo–which means to breathe hard, blow.

I see two pictures in my mind. One is of a wax museum. We visited the Ripley’s Believe it or Not and it’s crazy how real-to-life those wax figures are.  But they don’t breathe.

Our hearts wax cold…all that movement forward ceases. We become like wax figures. No life left.  It’s a gentle reduction in temperature. Gradual. Quiet even. Like those last dying breaths. Shallow. Stretching out in between the next one until none remains. Lifeless. Gone. Cold.

Maybe you aren’t deceived by lying preachers. But isn’t the evil abounding overwhelming? The political climate is ripe with tension. Infighting. Add one natural disaster after another and it’s enough to make one want to crawl in a hole and never come out.  

I’ve seen a few posts lately that say, “Just because it isn’t happening to you doesn’t mean it isn’t happening.” Why do we need this kind of statement? Because our hearts grow cold, we shut down. We turn off the TV and live in our bubbles. Why? Many reasons. One of them is because it feels so big and we feel helpless. So we shut it all out. It’s too much. Too fast. Our hearts grow weary before they grow cold. We stop doing good. Harvests can’t be reaped.

We lose our passion. But Jesus says to stay with it to the end. Keep on keeping on. How? For one, there is hope in the next words. All during this time, the Good News will go out. Lives will be eternally saved. God hasn’t given up on us. Or forgotten. He’s working. Moving.

The second picture I see is a steam engine. A steam engine in an interesting thing. In their cycle, water is heated which turns to steam to propel these engines forward. Slow at first, then faster…faster…gaining momentum. The higher the heat, the more steam. Until it’s full steam ahead!

But it takes water to heat it up! “…just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word.” Ephesians 5:25-26 NLT

It’s going to take continued washing in the water of God’s word to heat us up. Passion = heat! You’ve heard the phrase, “on fire for God.” Passionate about God. About the things of God. The word ignites our faith. fuels our strength. Gives us direction. And increases our momentum to keep us going forward. To stay it out until the end. 

I don’t want someone looking at me and wondering if I’m alive or not. I want people to be inspired and motivated by my love for Jesus, by my passion for Him. What about you?

Forward Challenge: Make it a priority to get into the Word. Find one verse and study it. Memorize it. Chew on it. Get it in the marrow of your bones and live it. Watch God ignite a new fire in you!

Forward Scripture and Prayer: 

 

Forward Friday: Watch that Mouth!

Hey everyone! It’s been awhile. How are you? What have you been up to? I’d love to hear in the comments. I’m gearing up to do something new. It’s called Forward Fridays. Each Friday, I’ll share a small devotion, a forward-thinking challenge, and a forward prayer with you. Because let’s be honest, no one should be moving backward spiritually! So let’s get on it with it, shall we?

“Sshh! My Mom or Dad might hear.” Ever tell someone that growing up? I did. I can also remember watching my mouth at church, in front of my grandma, and around my parents. But away from them, the things I said weren’t always pretty.

My parents had standards on what kind of talk could come from our mouths and when it was anything but acceptable, we knew! I can’t remember ever having soap shoved in between my gums, but I bet some of you may have.

This morning I was reading Ephesians 5:3-5: “…Though some tongues just love the taste of gossip, those who follow Jesus have better uses for language than that. Don’t talk dirty or silly. That kind of talk doesn’t fit our style…” MSG

In the NKJV, the word is “foolish talk” and I had to wonder exactly what is foolish talk, because I can say all sorts of ridiculous things. So I headed to find the Greek word. It’s mōrologia and it comes from a compound word made up of: mōros which means impious (irreverent or godless) and legō (this has nothing to do with those tiny plastic devil-made toys that kill your feet in the night) which means to point out with words, to intend, to speak, to call…

Not too long ago, my daughter facetimed a friend while I was in the room. The minute her friend answered, my daughter yelled, “My mom is here. My mom is here!” She didn’t even lead in with, “Hey.”

The Lord reminded me of this scenario this morning and His words to my heart were: She didn’t want you to be offended by what her friend might say. She respects you. But I still hear. I’m still offended. And my heart wept. Because I’m guilty of this. I might say something in front of one person that I wouldn’t say in front of another. But God still hears. And it still might offend Him! It still might disrespect Him. Maybe you’re guilty of this too.

The good news is, God’s mercy is new every morning (Lamentations 3:22-23). He’s not holding a grudge and planning on smiting us for being irreverent or disrespectful. But He is offering grace and He does expect us to get ahold of ourselves, repent and not do it again. Grace isn’t tolerance. Grace isn’t a license to keep sinning. It’s a humbling reason to repent and honor God.

Forward Friday Challenge: The challenge to myself and to you this morning is to be consistent in your speech. If you wouldn’t gossip, make a snide comment, tell an inappropriate joke in front of say a pastor or a particular friend who might be offended, then don’t say it to anyone. Because either way, God hears and let’s honor Him. Be reverent.

Forward Prayer: Lord, you are worthy to be revered and glorified. Help us through the power of your Holy Spirit to think before we speak and that what we say is always respectful to You.

Forward Scripture: “…Though some tongues just love the taste of gossip, those who follow Jesus have better uses for language than that. Don’t talk dirty or silly. That kind of talk doesn’t fit our style. Thanksgiving is our dialect.” Ephesians 5:3-5 MSG